It is a pleasure to look at the skies, in the north of Extremadura, during autumn and early winter to see flocks of cranes flying.Their ordered V formation and the sound of their honking is a spectacle for the senses. The return of the cranes every year attracts a wider share of public, even people that are not versed in ornithology. This event has converted into a new opportunity for tourism at his very versatile region of Spain, where nature plays an important role.
Ornithological tourism has a great chance in the national park of Monfragüe. And in general the north of Extremadura where cranes have come to stay during the winter. In the whole of Extremadura we can count the by the thousands. The official report states that there are more than 80000 cranes that traverse Europe, in search for a warmer climate and food offered by Spain. They find refuge in this region, close to Madrid and bordering with Portugal. The availability of food and warmth makes them come almost bashfully in October. During the following months, November and December, the immigration increases substantially reaching its peak during January.
Thus planning an escapade to the north of Extremadura to observe the cranes has constituted into an ideal program during this time of the year. With children, or in groups that are more or less small, as a plan for singles, on your own or by contracting a specialized service, there are options for all requirements. It is important to note that for the observation of cranes, you do not require special observatories.
You only need to approach the key places for observation. Navalvillar de Peña, in Badajoz is special for the returning cranes to their sleeping places in the afternoon. Best is to have a pair of binoculars. Other key points in the north of Extremadura are the reservoirs of Borbollón, of Gabriel and Galán, or Valdecañas and the bridge of La Bazagona.
THE RESERVOIR OF BORBOLLON IS THE TOURISTIC PLACE OF EXCELLENCE TO SEE THE CRANES
The reservoir of Borbollón, which has its seat at Santibañez El Alto, is highly regarded by the cranes and the public. It is a relatively small place; the entrance concentrates at the same point, easing the observation without binoculars. Though, if you prefer, you can see the feeding at the beautiful fields of Alagón, close to the Sierra de Gata and Moraleja, where ornithological workshops are frequently held, during the last seasons.
THE GABRIEL AND GALAN RESERVOIR, THE MOST IDYLLIC PACE TO WATCH THE CRANES
The Gabriel and Galán reservoir, located at Tierras de Granadilla, offers an idyllic scenario if you add the views of the Gredos snow covered mountains. It is a very extensive area and offers many good watching areas. The best are right next to the reservoir and the little town. It also has a good-asphalted road that circles the whole area. However the best places are those of difficult access since they are less visited.
THE BRIDGE OF LA BAZAGONA, AT MONFRAGÜE, THE MOST INTIMATE PLACE TO SEE THE CRANES
The road that leads to the Monfragüe national park from the EX-A1 highway, at the bridge of La Bazagona, is not the most spectacular place to see the cranes, but it can be depicted as the most intimate. The sleeping place of the cranes is usually close to river Tietar. Their flight, here, is short but you will be able to spot thousands of birds.
THE VALDECAÑAS RESERVOIR
Along the surrounding area of Peraleda de la Mata, there is not one, but multiple choices of exceptional places to watch the cranes. There are many sleeping places that are housed by the Valdecañas reservoir. There are two roads that lead to this place, on the one hand the A-5 highway and on the other the Peraleda road. Also, we recommended the journey through the internal roads that surround the agricultural lands that are highly regarded.
Original article by Merche R. Rey
Translated by Susana Windt
Published in October, 2015